Now that we’ve covered the basics of what you need to start your own “digital revolution,” let’s get into the specifics for different solutions. This time around, we’ll talk about (my all-time favorite) the Tablet PC. There are many fish out in that vast Tablet PSea and even more options for applications, so lets sort them out.
Tablet or Slate…which one to choose?
As was mentioned previously, the Tablet PC can be grouped into two main categories – the slate and the convertible. With easy transitions from portrait to landscape orientation, both slate and convertible form factors offer versatility in computing.
Personally, I think the slate form factor truly embodies the Tablet PC philosophy. In order to truly replace paper books, notebooks, etc., the tablet must be just as portable and comparable in heft. The slate accomplishes just that. Without an always-attached keyboard, a slate-style tablet can be smaller, thinner, lighter, and overall more aesthetically pleasing. Of course, should you need a keyboard, you can simply attach it and type away.
However, the major draw-back to the slate form-factor is inherent to its slimmer size – lack of expansion options and optical drives. These are areas where a convertible tablet really shines. With the luxury of extra space, a convertible can easily incorporate optical drives and a range of expansion slots/ports. If you can’t do without a gazillion usb ports and a DVD-burner, the convertible is your best bet.
1. Compaq TC1100 – This one’s an oldie but still a goodie. With a Pentium M processor, integrated graphics, and 10.4″ screen, its not packed with the latest goods, but the hybrid design makes this the most versatile slate. This tablet can be used as a convertible, and with a flick of switch, you can detach the keyboard for slate use. Its age lends to its low price tag, and earns this tablet the top spot for slates. (~$800)
2. MacBook Modbook – What’s that you say? There is no such thing as a Mac Tablet? Well, that’s only partly true. While Apple does not officially manufacture a tablet, there is an after-market solution to turn a MacBook into a ModBook. Specifications are the same as the MacBook line, with the addition of a Wacom digitizer screen and pen. With Intel guts, you can choose to work on WinXP Tablet PC or Mac OSX (with bult-in InkWell handwriting recognition). (~$2,500)
3. Motion Computing LE1700 – Motion Computing has really made a name for itself over the past half-decade. By concentrating on producing slate tablets, they have captured 33% (according to them) market share. With Intel’s Core Duo processor and super-fast RAM, the LE-series features the latest in computing tech. The older M-series can be found online for much cheaper than the current flagship LE-series. (~$2,500)
4. Fujitsu Stylistic ST5100 – An industry pioneer in touch-based computing, Fujitsu offers an array of tablet solutions in slate and convertible form factors. The Stylistic-series boasts powerful features in a sleek and refined package. However, the Fujitsu tablets lack digitizer screens. This means you won’t be rest your palm on the touchscreen as you write – an uncomfortable proposition at best. (~$2,500)
1. Toshiba Protege R400 – This brand new offering from long-time convertible manufacturer Toshiba offers Core Duo, Vista-power, a magnificent 1400 x 1050 screen, and a nifty secondary display for quick email and calendar access. The glossy black and white design is bold and modern, so you can be fashionable with your laptop. It’s a pricey sucker, but you gotta pony up if you want cutting edge features with sleek design. (~$2,600)
2. HP Pavilion tx1000 – The first tablet under the Pavilion brand, HP’s tx1000 touts itself as the first consumer tablet that is optimized for Windows Vista. Boasting a dual-core AMD Turion processor, DVD-burner, and…uh, karaoke, the tx1000 pulls double duty as multimedia notebook. The low, low price and bang-for-buck of this tablet earns it the number two spot in our list. (~$1,150)
3. Lenovo Thinkpad X60 – Lenovo continues the Thinkpad tradition of high quality products with this new convertible. Packed with Core Duo, biometrics, and an ultra-long 7.5 hours of battery life, this puppy is ready to work. And the optional 1400 x 1050 pixel multi-touch (allowing both digitizer and touch-based input) display is a real selling point. (~$1,750)
4. Fujitsu T4215 – Rounding out our convertible list is another tablet from Fujitsu. The T4210 brings an innovative dual-pivot hinge to the table, but forgot the digitizer screen again. Core Duo, media bay, biometric security and an impressive 6.5 hours of uptime are this tablet’s saving graces. (~$2,100)
As you can see, there are a wide range of tablet options to fit just about anyone.
The first decision should be whether a slate or a convertible is best for your needs. Slates (in my humble opinion) are the optimal tablet form, but you are going to sacrifice expansion options and usually a built-in optical drive (this aspect is a turn-off for most). Convertibles offer the best of both worlds – packing all the traditional features into a tablet form. But you get added heft and bulk with all those extra features – which may become cumbersome when trying to use the tablet as a digital notepad.
Then decide how much you want to spend and measure that against the design and feature set you really want. Remember that more features and more power means more price. As far as design, that is personal preference.
Stay tuned for our next issue where we find the best UMPC for you!
Feel like we didn’t address your particular needs? Have a suggestion for the column? Shoot us an email or leave a comment! Your opinion matters, and no suggestion is too small!